Richard Mille’s $1.88 million RM UP-01 Ferrari Watch is the Thinnest Ever Made

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When Richard Mille unveiled its first piece with Ferrari at the automotive marque’s HQ in Maranello, Italy, on July 5, the audience was taken by surprise as soon as the first image of the watch appeared on screen.

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Making a radical departure from any previous Richard Mille watch—which are typically chunky, skeletonized, and ultra-complicated—the RM UP-01 Ferrari achieved a new ultra-thin record. UP stands for Ultra Plat (French for “ultra flat”), measuring a mere 1.75mm thick, about the same as a compact disc, and narrowly beating the previous record holder, Bulgari’s 1.8mm-thick Octo Finissimo Ultra, which debuted in March .

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No less extreme is the RM UP-01 Ferrari’s jaw-dropping price tag of US$1.88 million dollars, in keeping with the brand’s reputation for outrageously expensive watches.

To achieve Mille’s goal of building the world’s thinnest watch, Engineers turned Mille’s signature tonneau shape on its side and blew out the dimensions to make the movement as flat as possible, measuring 1.18mm and weighing 2.62 grams. Including the strap, the entire watch weighs in at a featherweight 30 grams.

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Spanning the wrist at 51mm across and 39mm from top to bottom, the UP-01’s time indication is in a sub-dial at the top center, and the balance wheel is visible at the top right. Because a traditional stem-winding system with a crown was too thick, two crowns—one for winding and the other for setting—have been integrated in the case as movement wheels and ringed with black ceramic inserts that protect the bezel from wear.

A special tool is included for winding, but you can also use your finger. On the right side, a laser-engraved black cavallino—Ferrari’s iconic prancing horse—offers the only nod to the automotive marque.

Richard Mille

While it bears little resemblance to the Richard Mille watches we’ve seen over the past 20 years, Julien Boillat, the company’s technical director for cases, points out design echoes in line with the brand’s signature codes. Among these are the finishing, which includes beveling, satin-finished, polished and micro-blasted parts, the 13 spline screws that hold the case components and strap and the familiar tonneau shape, even if flattened and shifted horizontally.

Limited to 150 pieces, the UP-01 started as an idea on a blank piece of paper about five years ago, but the bulk of the development took place in the past two and a half years. When the brand courted Ferrari in 2020, they presented the concept to entice them into inking the partnership deal.

“When we presented this watch concept to Ferrari when we met in summer 2020, we said this is a project we are starting to develop, and we think it makes real sense to do this with you,” said Yves Mathis, production director at Richard Mille. “So, they were involved already before we signed the contract.” The deal was officially sealed in January 2021.

What followed was the creation of dozens of prototypes and more than 6,000 hours of development and laboratory testing to arrive at the celebration that took place at Ferrari’s official test track, the Fiorano circuit, with founder Richard Mille and Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz in attendance.

Perhaps no other previous Ferrari watch partner is as deeply rooted in motorsport as Richard Mille, which launched in 2001 with the motto, “a racing machine on the wrist.” Mille’s passion for motorsport heavily influences the avant-garde watches his company produces.

“Everything we learned in our 20 years at Richard Mille was thrown out the window to do this watch,” said Boillat. “It was really a brand-new challenge with a new piece of paper and trying to stick to all our validation processes—water resistance and all the different criteria we have.”

Working with partner specialists at Audemars Piguet Le Locle, the engineers set out to develop the extreme ultra-thin watch with a architecture with the movement inside the case traditional to enhance shock resistance, rather than utilizing the case back as a baseplate to pare down millimeters as previous record holders had done. The case has a front and back with the movement in between, but no middle case. Tolerances are so tight that they machine the cases on the same equipment used to make the movement.

Richard Mille

Two sapphire crystals—one over the time display, with hour and minute hands integrated with the wheels, and the other over the regulating organ (balance and spring assembly) to showcase the beating movement—have also been minimized to a thickness of two-tenths of a millimeter.

Ferrari’s team weighed in on details, such as the fonts for the numbers, the style of the hands, the case material, and, of course, the laser-engraved stallion, which is so finely detailed that you can see its musculature under magnification.

Tim Malachard, Richard Mille’s marketing director, noted the extensive testing the watch underwent to prove it can stand up to wear and tear. This included attaching 12-kilogram weights to the strap to make sure the slim case would not bend under stress. In fact, the strap, which has a titanium insert, also contributes to the watch’s rigidity.

Other tests included wear (a 10-year accelerated aging of parts), water resistance to 10 meters, torsional tests, flex tests, and hours spent testing shock resistance, particularly using the Charpy Impact test, which certifies resistance to acceleration exceeding 5,000 Gs.

Ferrari and Richard Mille “share a lot of values: obsessions with efficiency, very high technical prowess, and a strong loyal following of fans as well, plus the fact that we’re independent brands,” Malachard said. “We have quite similar values in terms of being made by hand and built by hand.”

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Credit: www.marketwatch.com /

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